Tag Archives: Design

What I have been reading Lately

Teenage Wizards, Nesting, and Daily Chores (A.K.A. Books I Have Been Reading Lately)

Today is a day that can be viewed one of two ways: as a grey, rainy, icky day that confines us to spending our time indoors; or it can be viewed as a wonderful opportunity to snuggle up with a good book and a hot cup of tea.  I am trying to look at it as the latter.

My baby girl, has got the right idea though, she keeps following me around the house holding a book and tugging on my skirt.  Needless to say, I gave into her sweet persuasion and we read a stack of books this morning.

For you rainy day reading pleasure, may I present my five favorite books that I read in the past month or so.

1.  Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

2.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

So I know I am late to the party, but I only got around to reading the books now.  As a teenager, I avoided them because I was afraid of the element of magic they contained. Now that my brothers and several other friends read them and LOVED them, I figured the time had come to see why.  Also, I figured it would be better to decide way in advance if the series is something I would be comfortable with my kids reading.  Short answer: yes I would let my kids read them, but I think it would be best to read and discuss them together.  I found the magical aspect to be innocuous, (see this article by Regina Doman for a more extensive treatment on the topic),  what bothered me more was Harry’s frequent violation of rules and disrespect for many of his teachers, but even that was more minor.

These two books were my favorites in the series.  Rowling is a master of the page-turner, the plot is very engaging and fast paced, drawing you into the series and investing you in the characters.  I have to admit that I cried at a few points.  Don’t want to say too much more for fear of spoilers.  Bottom Line: Go read them, if you haven’t already.

519dIBQX6QL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_3.  The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith

I blitzed through this book because it is so darn good.  I usually am a fairly silent reader, but I found I was vocal in expressing my agreement with the ideas as I read.  I LOVE her philosophy decorating, even if I don’t personally care for her unique style.  If you are a recovering perfectionist when it comes to decorating your home, or struggling with being content with your current home/ rental this book is a must read.


4. Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris

If you have trouble finding meaning in housework or chores this book is for you.  It is a short, meditative work.  I read it over a period of months in an effort to motivate me to do the dishes.  I still am not fond of doing the dishes, but at least I have interesting reflections to ponder as I do them.



5. Minimalist Living: Decluttering for Joy, Health and Creativity by Genevieve Parker Hill

I snagged this book while it was free as a Kindle Daily Deal a few months back.  Its an interesting read, though I had encountered most of the ideas before.  For those who have not explored their relationship to their stuff, or why they keep things, this book would be a useful resource.  It helped me keep my motivation for continuing the great purge of 2014.


Linking up with the ever insightful, Anne of ModernMrsDarcy.com for twitterature.  Also linking up with Jenna of callherhappy.com for Five Favorites Wednesday.

Happy Reading!

What have you been reading lately?  Have you read any of these books before?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Halfkindled kirk with tribbles

Stuff Manager vs. Steward

Sometimes I fear that if I were to be given a job title it would be stuff manager.  Read this link  to see what I mean and as you read picture me as Luke finding out that Darth Vader is his father, “NOOOOOO, it can’t be . . .that’s impossible . . .  NOOOOOOOO!”

I hate stuff.  Basically it is like tribbles that breed in the corners of your house when you aren’t looking.  See what I did there? I made a reference to Star Wars and Star Trek in the first few sentences, heck yes I’m a nerd.

Tribbles seem like nice things to have around . . .until they take over your life!

Tribbles seem like nice things to have around . . .until they take over your life!

Earlier this year I did a time log, and the results were a bit scary.  I spend an average of four hours a day as stuff manager: cleaning our stuff, preventing the toddler from destroying our stuff, purchasing new stuff (of the babyproofing variety), rearranging our stuff , cleaning the stuff the toddler keeps getting into.  Ugh.

In the spring we had a flood.  OK I am being melodramatic, it was 1/2 inch over a few hundred square feet of living space.  As a result I had to go through and throw out what amounted to about 12 boxes of stuff.  With very few exceptions I was glad to be rid of it all.  Stuff is burdening mentally, physically and emotionally.

In our old apartment I would amuse/ drive my husband nuts by going through all of our stuff every three months, and usually take a few boxes of stuff to Good will.  For the most part we had just what we needed, no more, no less.

Now that we purchased our first house there are so many more things that need to be maintained, and tools necessary to do so.  Now don’t get me wrong, we are so grateful for our home. sure Its a bit of a fixer upper, its got a few flaws, (your welcome for getting the troll song from Frozen stuck in your head for the next hour), but it is a good fit for our family.

Its an unfortunate fact of life that stuff takes time to clean, maintain, organize, etc.  All of that is time I would rather be spending with my family, or reading or writng– stuff distracts from these things.

For a while I decided that the answer was to make sure that there were no more unused things taking up mental and physical space.  Reading a book about the necessity of poverty in the life of the lay Christian, only fueled what became a somewhat scrupulous undertaking.

I began a massive purge with the result that fifty boxes given away or donated so far.  I have no idea how we accumulated that much unnecessary stuff, its really is like tribbles I tell you!

Throughout the process, I discovered that an overly zealous commitment to getting rid of all unnecessary belongings can be just as dangerous as hoarding.  The point at which you are frustrated with your spouse because they won’t let you get rid of all of their stuff, you have a problem.  Spending substantial amounts of time and energy deliberating the merit of keep ing each individual item at great length is time that could have been better spent.

When used appropriately in an attitude of stewardship, stuff can help foster relationships.  Glancing around my living room, I see many things that aid in developing relationships or personal growth.  Furniture provides a place for guests to sit and comfortably converse, books enrich the mind, and art is displayed to uplift the soul.

An unhealthy obsession with decluttering in the name of freedom from possessions just tightens the chains all the more.  Whether you are obsessed with accumulating stuff or getting rid of it, you are still focused on your possessions.

I am striving to be focused on relationships instead.


How about you, are you a purger or a keeper?  Where do you think the proper balance lies?  Is your stuff like Tribbles?  Please reassure me that you know what tribbles are!  



Houseiversary Lessons Learned

Our Two Year “Housiversary”: Lessons Learned

First off I want to apologize for how quiet things have been around here.  We have had colds, allergies and general feelings of “blahs” going around.  Also I have been hard at work on a special project that I look forward to sharing with you (not the laundry room remodel, progress has temporarily stalled on that front).  Hopefully we will be back to our “not so regularly scheduled programming” sometime next week.  Thanks!

Houseiversary Lessons Learned

Two years ago this week my husband and I processed down main street, baby in tow (er, in arm) and bought a house.  We didn’t know much about home ownership (we still don’t), and while crazy exciting, the prospect of “breaking” the house was more than a little intimidating.  Along the way we have learned a few valuable lessons and I am sure that we will learn many more.

Because the house was a sixty year old short sale it wasn’t in ideal condition.  The previous owner had two dogs, three cats, twelve rabbits and one snake; she wasn’t particularly scrupulous about how this affected the cleanliness of the house.

Fortunately we had lots of awesome friends who very generously helped us get the house in a more clean state, over 100 man power hours later it was move-in ready.  Lesson Learned: We have awesome friends.  

I still think of my friend Rebecca who cleaned out my pantry (we joked that it looked like a dead cat had exploded in it), Sarah who helped me clean out my cabinets (apparently the previous owner also had some non-domesticated rodent “pets”), and Mary who helped me paint over the pornographic graffiti in what is now my son’s room.  I promise we are actually in a decent neighborhood, the house was just really neglected.

In the month after moving, our house rebelled.  One light fixture shot out sparks, the garbage disposal switch shocked my mom. the heating system sounded like a dying dinosaur, and the sewer lines backed up into our house . . .twice.

That month we spent the equivalent of a mortgage payment in repairs.  Lesson Learned: emergency savings accounts are awesome and save additional stress when you are already overwhelmed.  

While we are on the subject of money, I find it hilarious to think that I thought that I would have the entire house fixed up the way I wanted, within two-three months for less than $2K.  Cue big belly laugh here.  Now two years later we are slowly, but surely catching up on all the deferred maintenance and addressing repairs, but aesthetic updates are quite incomplete.

When we moved in I wanted to repaint EVERYTHING; I figured it would only take a week or two.  Cue another big belly laugh.  Within a month of moving in I became pregnant with our daughter and promptly passed out on the couch for the next few months from pregnancy exhaustion.   Most of the rooms in the house still have not been painted yet.

This used to bother me to no end, as if the unpainted walls were mocking me.  Now I see it a bit differently.  The walls are not mocking me, they serve as a reminder that I have higher priorities that take precedence, such as my husband and children.

This house is to serve to foster relationships, to be a refuge for my family and a place of hospitality for friends.  Lesson Learned: To the extent that decorating aids in the aforementioned goals it is a good thing, to the extent that it detracts from them, it ceases to be good.  

On that related topic, the past two years have shown that DIY projects aren’t our strong suit.  As I previously mentioned, we start them at a tortoise’s pace.  My husband, for some reason,  doesn’t derive the same delight as I do from decorating.  For him, painting walls and hanging curtains is an act of love and sacrifice.  One year he even worked it into his Lenten penances.

Now I have come to understand that he works many long and hard hours and when he comes home he doesn’t want to work more, or be apart from me while I lock myself in a room to paint; he wants to have time as a family.

I have finally come to realize that our most precious resource is time.  Time spent working on projects is time not spent on family, writing, singing or any of the other activities we enjoy.  If there is a project that we don’t particularly like, perhaps our time would be better spent on other pursuits.

I am finally realizing that it isn’t wrong to hire out work that we could do ourselves.  That this allows us to play to our strengths.  Lesson learned: Before attempting a project take time and energy into account as valuable resources, instead of just money.  

Finally, this house is teaching me the importance of embracing the beauty of everyday life in all its mess and chaos.  Who would want to live in a perfect house any way, a house where there are no toys strewn on the floor, or sewing projects underway, or sheets of music that somehow always seem to escape their neat binders?  Not I.  Our house is full of life, and life isn’t always neat and tidy.

Our house is a place of growth, fellowship and love.  A place where friends (and sometimes strangers) are welcome, even if the dishes aren’t done.

I strive to create beauty and order in my home, not to attain some pristinely clean, impeccably decorated home, perfect in its sterility.  I strive to make it a haven for my family and friends, a place of joy and rest.  Lesson Learned: A perfect house isn’t my goal, a happy family is.  


Has your home taught you any important life lessons?  Do you enjoy decorating or look at it as just another chore?  I would love to hear about it in the comments.